Burkina Faso, a land-locked country in the Sahel region of West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world with an annual per capita income of $300, a literacy rate of 32%, infant mortality of 83/1000, and a life expectancy of about 46 years. Digestive cancers, in particular cancers of the liver, stomach and esophagus are a major problem. It is the sort of place where a relatively minor intervention can have a major impact, as the WGO has found.
The Yalgado Ouedraogo University Medical Center is an 850-bed hospital that services 1.5 million people. It contains a 29 bed Hepatogastroenterology Unit and a Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit, with five trained gastroenterologists who perform endoscopies, two gastroenterology trainees and six gastrointestinal endoscopy nurses. However, these dedicated professionals have no functioning gastroscopes or colonoscopes and no ERCP equipment. When fully functional, the unit has the potential to perform 300 gastroscopies, 100 colonoscopies and 10 ERCPs per month but none are being done at present due to this lack of equipment.
Through the WGO/OMED Outreach Program, Olympus Ltd donated endoscopic equipment, including gastroscopes, colonoscopes and ERCP equipment to the Yalgado Ouedraogo University Medical Center. By the end of 2005 the hepatogastroenterology and gastroenterology units were fully functional – a perfect example of how the WGO works with companies to determine their most appropriate response to the most urgent needs.
Professors Alain Bougouma and James DiSario coordinated an inauguration ceremony, incorporating visits from local and international dignitaries, as well as scientific lectures. Even celebration, it seems, is an opportunity for the important work of the Center to continue.
“You would not imagine how overjoyed the Director of our hospital, the Minister of Health and I were at reading your message informing us that the Yalgado Ouédraogo University Medical Center has been selected as the site for donation of equipment and supplies. That was our New Year's present. I am most grateful for your allowing us, through your Programme, to acquire equipment we would never have been able to receive! Our population will benefit from this immensely.”Professor Alain Bougouma